6 Steps to Switch Expense Management Systems

September 15, 2020

6 min read

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Certify Team

Every business has its threshold for the level of frustration it’s willing to tolerate from the systems it employs to maintain momentum. How long can you accept lackluster user experiences, oppressive contract terms, and erratic billing before saying enough is enough? Beyond the essential deliverables of the solution, what else are you getting from your investment? Where is the added value? Perhaps you’re feeling like just another account number. And when help is needed, you may feel like there’s an intentional wall distancing you from the support to remedy a situation.

Knowing it’s time to switch takes reflection and acceptance. However, initiating the switch can seem daunting from the onset—regardless of how ready your organization is to change. Here are six steps to make switching as graceful as possible.

1. Review your current contract

The small print is usually the last thing anyone reads (if at all), yet it’s where you should start. Review your solution’s agreement and note:

  • When is it up for renewal?
  • What’s the current recurring charge?
  • Are you charged to create reports?
  • What are you charged to submit or review reports?
  • What happens if a report needs a correction?
  • Are there overage fees?
  • Are you paying extra for support or training?
  • What additional fees are necessary to end your contract?

Arming yourself with an understanding of what it takes contractually to switch informs the timelines and costs.

2. Survey the users

Chances are the frustration felt isn’t isolated to a lone individual. Pain like that tends to have a ripple effect that can be felt well beyond finance’s boundaries. If you’re going to switch expense management solutions, it’s imperative to hear what’s not working, so you know what to avoid or fix with a chosen replacement.

Ask your stakeholders to send a survey to all departments for a comprehensive view of the solution’s performance. Next, concentrate on its most frequent, critical users as well as its administrators. You’ll gain a sense of what’s working and what isn’t from both sides of the workflow from the people who are ingrained in the process. This is their opportunity to share what would make the workflow easier. It’s also the opportunity to identify where process refinement could be introduced for improved efficiency.

3. Prioritize the must-haves

Collected input from the survey logically sets the foundation for a matrix of needs. Some build a simple checklist with the feedback that always keeps the needs and wishes within reach. Others take it a step further by scoring the desired features or capabilities of the solution options.

Some of the most-desired capabilities and service from a solution include:

  • Report building automation
  • Receipt parsing autofill
  • Anywhere access
  • User-friendly interface
  • Access to helpful support
  • Mobile functionality
  • International payment

Regardless of how you synthesize the survey responses, the knowledge gained will make auditioning potential replacements much more straightforward.

4. Identify your alternatives

We’re more connected than ever before. Your peers’ experiences or extensive lists of user reviews are never more than a few keystrokes away. Rely on them to construct a shortlist of viable alternatives. It’s not uncommon for a solution’s developer to host live demos for the public to sample. These are great opportunities to see the software in action and (ideally) ask questions that whittle down your list and show potential shortcomings.

Begin conversations with the options showing the most potential. It’s also a prime time to assemble your diverse group of users who will contribute their expertise to the selection process.
The more this group reflects the entirety of the user pool—at all levels—the better.

5. Unite and demo

Use the demo sessions scheduled by a solution’s sales team to ask questions. A reputable developer should be able to tailor its presentation to your organization’s unique needs and give ample space for discussion.

It’s not just an opportunity to see a piece of software in action. This is where you add dimension to the first impressions it made. Grill the host for details about the solution’s implementation, support, integrations, user training, uptime, workflows—anything that contributes toward a successful adoption and proves an ability to scale as you grow.

Rely on your user group’s input for their specific perspectives. They’re on hand to vet claims by the demo leaders, battle test the solution’s practicality, as well as ask about scenarios you may have missed. They’ll be your secret weapon for finding the perfect solution for your organization.

6. Choose wisely

By now, you’ve seen countless solution demos. You’ve done post-mortems with your demo team to understand their true adaptability to the organization’s processes. Your shortlist got shorter and shorter. It’s time to present your choices for the best alternatives that will put an end to the frustration.

Simple is better in this scenario. Limit the number of vendors pitched to the CFO and other senior stakeholders. They hired you because they trust your thoroughness and judgment.
Present the pros and cons of the final contenders as they apply to the company for added context.

Regardless of which vendor is the winner, be confident that it was selected with a complete understanding of its ability to combat existing frustrations. All the legwork done before making a choice leads to the desired ease and simplicity your legacy system replacement is meant to deliver.

If you’d like for more information about the six steps above, download our free guide to make your switch pursuit a choice everyone will embrace.